How Do I Know If I Have Aluminum Wiring?

How Do I Know If I Have Aluminum Wiring?

December 11, 2021

The electrical wiring can be imagined as the road electricity takes to get from Point A to Point B. These roads are made of specific metals including copper wires and aluminum wires. Although aluminum wiring is commonly used for power grids, utility companies, and even airplanes, the practice of using aluminum wiring in homes was discontinued in the 1970s. Still, some old buildings still have aluminum wiring. At Mr. Electric of Dallas, we recommend property owners with buildings over 40 years old have their wiring inspected. Continue reading to learn about the risks of aluminum wiring, how you can determine whether your home has aluminum wiring, and what you can do about it.

What Is Wrong with Aluminum Wiring?

Home builders in the 1960s and mid-1970s opted for aluminum wiring over copper wiring because copper is more expensive. Both metals conduct electricity though. So, what is the problem? What is wrong with aluminum wiring?

Aluminum is softer than copper and gets far hotter than copper. When aluminum heats up, it expands more and is more prone to warping over time. Aluminum can also rust. As you might suspect, these attributes are bigly disadvantageous when it comes to electrical wiring.

The fluctuating size and shape of aluminum wiring often cause the wires to come loose from their connections. If rusty, the wiring will limit the flow of electricity. In turn, appliances and electronics will draw more electricity to make up for loose connections and rusting, which causes even more heat and expanding wires. The ultimate result is often an electrical fire and damaged appliances.

Signs That You Have Aluminum Wiring

Aluminum wiring will not immediately collapse. Aluminum CAN conduct electricity safely, but it is not considered safe compared to alternatives. A survey released in 2011 by the Consumer Product Safety Commission indicated homes with aluminum wiring built before 1972 were over 50 times more likely than those with aluminum wiring to have at least one electrical outlet in a fire hazard condition.

Unfortunately, even some houses built after 1972 have portions of the electrical system that use aluminum wiring. So how do you know your building has aluminum wiring? Here are some tell-tale signs:

  • Arcing or Sparking Outlets: Outlets that spark or shock when you plug in an appliance or device indicate a poor electrical connection, which is common with aluminum wires.
  • Warm or Discolored Outlets: The excessive heat generated by aluminum wires can cause outlets to overheat and even change colors.
  • Flickering Lights: There are several things that can cause lights to flicker, and poor electrical connections due to deteriorating aluminum wires is a familiar culprit.
  • Insulation Labels: You might be able to spot the plastic covering that insulates the electrical wiring. If you read ALUMINUM, ALUM, or AL printed or etched on that covering, then you have aluminum wiring.

Have A Certified Electrician Take A Look

If you are worried about your electrical wiring, then call Mr. Electric of Dallas to have one of our certified electricians take a look. We can have an electrician dispatched to your location in as soon as within thirty minutes!